Windows XP Games

Although the central concept of Windows XP—merging what were once separate Windows versions for corporations and homes—is a noble and largely successful one, a few peculiar juxtapositions result. If you’re a home user, for example, all of this business of accounts and security may strike you as strangely irrelevant. If you’re a corporate user, meanwhile, you may wonder what to make of things like Movie Maker (for editing home movies), Outlook Express (a stripped-down, free version of Outlook)—and games. Yes, Windows XP even includes eleven games for your procrastination pleasure.

More interesting still, several of them let you play against other people on the Internet. At the Microsoft Game Center (, players from all over the world gather to find worthy opponents. When you choose one of the Internet-enabled games, your PC connects automatically with this Game Center. An automated matchmaker searches for someone else who wants to play the game you chose, and puts the two of you together, albeit anonymously.

The game board that opens, like the one in Figure 7-8, provides more than just the tools to play; there’s even a pseudo-chat feature. By choosing from the canned list of phrases, you can send little game exclamations to your opponent (“Good move,” “King me!” “Bad luck,” and so on).

It may look like a simple game of checkers, but you’re actually witnessing a spectacular feature of Windows XP: instantaneous anonymous Internet gaming. Two Internet visitors in search of recreation have made contact, a game board has appeared, and the game is under way. The Chat window sits below the game board. You can even turn Chat off if you’re planning to play a cutthroat game and don’t want to fake having friendly feelings toward your opponent.

Figure 7-8. It may look like a simple game of checkers, but you’re ...

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